FBI Director James Comey signed off to add animal cruelty offenses to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR). In addition, local agencies will begin tracking animal cruelty offenses and report them to the FBI.
The FBI began collecting, publishing and archiving statistics in 1930. The UCR Program is the source for law enforcement executives, students of criminal justice, researchers, members of the media and the general public looking for information on crime in the United States.
Prior to this addition to the Uniform Crime Report there was not a process for collecting animal cruelty data on a national or even statewide level. This type of data was difficult to capture because numerous local law enforcement agencies, animal control officers and humane society agents enforced animal cruelty laws.
Before this recent inclusion, crimes against animals were classified under a generic “all other offense” category in the UCR but beginning in 2015, the FBI will implement the changes and begin accepting data in January of 2016. Animal cruelty will be reported as a distinct category the same as other major offenses like murder, assault and arson crimes.
Now that animal cruelty, which includes, animal neglect is part of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, law enforcement agencies will be motivated to pay closer attention to cases involving cruelty to animals.
The new changes will make animal cruelty a crime against society and a “Type A” offense with four categories: simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse and animal sexual abuse.
The FBI’s official definition of animal cruelty will be:
“Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment. Included are instances of duty to provide care, e.g., shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured; transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., uses objects to beat or injure an animal. This definition does not include proper maintenance of animals for show or sport; use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing or trapping.”
Animal rights groups lobbied for this change for more than ten years. The National Sheriff’s Association proposed animal cruelty be listed as a separate offense in the National Incident Based Reporting System that feeds the data for the UCR. The combined efforts of these organizations resulted in this victory for animal rights. Including animal cruelty in the crimes against society reinforces the increasing awareness of animal cruelty issues and the desire to protect the animals who cannot protect themselves.